By Keona Wright, May 8, 2006
Maddie Clifton dreamed of becoming a WBA player for the gators. Now the little girl won't stand a chance. November 3, 1998 started a normal day, Maddie went out to play as she usually did. Maddie didn't know that it would be her last day of playing. She was innocent to the world of hatred that surrounded her. She had no idea that a boy whom she considered a 'friend' would be evil enough to attack her, much less go about acting on it.
Maddie was full of life. The tall, thin 'tomboy' loved to play basketball and was a pro at it. "She was my little tomboy. She was the very opposite of prissy." her mother Sheila Delongis said. "She was always interested in try new things, she was never affraid. The only thing she was affraid of was the dark". Mrs.Delongis said Maddie's birthday was a special day. She was born on June 17, 1990, her parents first marriage anniversary. "She was her dad's father's day present, because father's day was June 17 that year". Maddie was very active and was a quick learner. "We took her up north to West Virginia and she went snow skiing. At the age of 7 she could go down a black diamond at the snow shoe. The green was for beginners, blue was for intermediate and black was for advanced. She quickly went from the green to the black." She was innocent and had an adorable personality.
On this particular November day, Maddie's innocence was twisted into a dreadful, bloody homicide. Mrs.Delongis couldn't have wrap her head around what would become of her daughter. She never thought such a beast would come so close to her little girl.
Maddie was a 3rd grader at San Jose Catholic School. She was an honor student who maintained straight A's. She particpated in the Biddy ball team and the YMCA. "She was on such good hands with her teacher that she could write her name as 'Giggles Clifton' on her assignments and turn them in with that as her name." Maddie was also very musical. She played the piano, harmonica and the drum. She wanted to learn to play the guitar. The active little girl was good at fishing. "Once she did a 360 on the boogy board", her mother recalled.
On November 10, 1998, Maddie was discovered hidden in the waterbed of 14-year-old John Phillips who lived across the street. Phillips' mother had noticed some water on the floor at the end of her son's waterbed. She thought that leaking water might be causing the strange smell in her son's room. So she pulled apart the baseboard to check under his bed. She saw a foot. She ran out of the front door to a police officer and led him to her son's room. 8-year-old Maddie had been beaten and stabbed to death. Her short, adventurous life was defined by one violent, hostile moment.
Shelia Delongis has since moved from Jacksonville to another town in Florida. "I cherish my memories but there's a love-hate relationship with memories. I had to move to escape all those memories". She has divorced Maddie's father, Steven Clifton and remarried. She says the town she lives in now is a 'country' town and that Maddie would love to live there. She would like to build a memorial for Maddie to keep her memory alive. "GOD gave her to me for 8 years and she was a gift".